Olivia Newton-John's First Mammogram Didn't Detect Breast Cancer: 'Trust Your Instincts'

·3 min read
Olivia Newton-John's First Mammogram Didn't Detect Breast Cancer: 'Trust Your Instincts'

Before Olivia Newton-John's death at age 73, the Grease star was a fierce advocate for breast cancer research and early detection following her own diagnosis.

In a 2020 interview for the launch of her foundation, the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, the actress urged women to trust their instincts after revealing that her initial mammogram in 1992 didn't catch the disease.

"I knew immediately that something was wrong. I had a mammogram and the mammogram was benign and then I had a needle biopsy that was also benign," Newton-John said in the now-deleted clip, per Prevention. "And I don't say this to scare women, but you just have to trust your instincts."

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"I felt something was wrong, and when I was with my surgeon, we decided that he would do a surgical biopsy," she added.

RELATED: Olivia Newton-John Dead at 73: The Star and Grease Icon Dies of Breast Cancer

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Following the procedure, Newton-John's doctor diagnosed her with cancer in her right breast and she underwent a partial mastectomy, nine months of chemotherapy and breast reconstruction.

Olivia Newton-John
Olivia Newton-John

Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

"All of this was overwhelming. It was a feeling of dread and terror of the unknown," she said of the diagnosis, which led her to launch the foundation in hopes of helping other women.

"I'm so excited to start this foundation and to bring kinder therapies for people going through cancer and living with cancer," Newton-John added at the time. "And to give them more of the tools and information they need to have a happier, healthier, kinder existence."

According to the National Cancer Institute, early detection of breast cancer through mammograms allows patients to get a head start on treatment, and can decrease the likelihood of it spreading.

The American Cancer Society suggests that women should start thinking about getting annual mammograms when they turn 40, and that by the time they're 45 they should be getting them done yearly.

Olivia Newton-John
Olivia Newton-John

Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic Olivia Newton-John

RELATED: Olivia Newton-John Remembered by Fellow Entertainers After Her Death at 73: 'Thank You for the Music'

Health officials also advise women of all ages to practice "breast self-awareness," which means becoming familiar with how a person's own breasts normally look and feel, so they will be more likely to recognize anything out of the ordinary when doing a breast self-examination.

After overcoming breast cancer again in 2013, Newton-John was told in May 2017 that the disease had metastasized and spread to her bones. The four-time Grammy Award winner died Aug. 8, her husband, John Easterling, announced.

"Dame Olivia Newton-John passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends," Easterling wrote. "We ask that everyone please respect the family's privacy during this very difficult time."

"Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer. Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any donations be made in her memory to the @onjfoundation."